Davis torches Miami, ‘Canes drop seventh straight

Fourth-year junior forward Norchad Omier shoots a jump shot during Miami's loss to North Carolina on Monday, Feb. 26 at the Dean E. Smith Center. Photo credit: Miami Athletics

North Carolina guard RJ Davis is one of the frontrunners to win the ACC Player of the Year Award this season. On Monday night against Miami, he proved why.

Davis dropped 42 points, a new record inside the Dean E. Smith Center, with seven three-pointers, as he was the engine of North Carolina’s 75-71 victory over Miami. The loss marks the seventh straight for the Hurricanes.

“That was a valiant effort on our part, but RJ Davis had the answer every time we made a run,” head coach Jim Larrañaga said to reporters. “Our guys fought very hard. We fell behind late in the game but still made a tremendous effort to come back and made it a very exciting ending.”

Davis carried the weight for the Tar Heels on offense, as the next highest scorer, junior Harrison Ingram, only scored eight points while shooting 3-of-13 from the field.

On Miami’s side, star forward Norchad Omier had 22 points but only shot 7-of-19 and was in foul trouble for much of the game. Meanwhile, sophomore guard Bensley Joseph scored a career-high 21 points and hit five threes, many of which came down the stretch as the ‘Canes almost pulled off a double-digit comeback.

Miami’s three-point shooting kept it in the game, with the ‘Canes knocking down 14-of-30 shots from long range, but it was not enough to cover for Davis’s scoring explosion. UM also committed 14 turnovers, which proved to be especially costly in its four-point loss.

This matchup looked like a defensive battle through the first 10 minutes, with both teams playing stout defense. The two signs of life on offense came from Davis and freshman Kyshawn George, as the game evolved into somewhat of a duel between the two for a stretch of time.

However, turnovers began to ramp up, as both teams finished the half with six giveaways. Despite this, Davis continued his excellent play, with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting in the first 20 minutes, and the ‘Canes kept themselves in the game with excellent three-point shooting.

In fact, Miami shot much better from beyond the arc (62%) than it did from the field overall (38%) in the first frame.

As the first-half buzzer sounded, the Tar Heels led 37-32, with the Hurricanes hanging in there on the road against the top-ranked team in the ACC. George led the way for the ‘Canes with 11 first-half points, trailed by sophomore guard Bensley Joseph, who scored eight, including two three-pointers.

UM began the second half shaky on offense, going on a three-minute scoring drought as the Tar Heels grabbed their first double-digit lead of the night at 50-38 with 13 minutes remaining.

The ‘Canes brought it to within seven after a Joseph three-pointer, but back-to-back triples from Davis brought the lead back up to 13.

Still, the Hurricanes stormed back, capping off an 11-0 run with a steal and a George three-pointer to cut the lead to just two.

Following a missed free throw from Davis, the Hurricanes, down by three with time running out, confusingly waited to foul until only eight seconds were remaining after North Carolina stole a rebound.

Miami sent senior forward Armando Bacot to the line, who missed both free throws, but UNC fouled Joseph to avoid a three-point attempt by the ‘Canes.

After drilling the first, Joseph intentionally missed the second to give Miami a chance, but the Tar Heels controlled the rebound. However, after another pair of missed free throws, the Hurricanes were once again unable to grab the rebound, sealing yet another defeat.

Miami will look to finally end its losing streak when it plays host to the Boston College Eagles next Wednesday. Tip-off at the Watsco Center is set for 7 p.m., and UM’s home finale will air on ESPNU.